Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Fresh Basil Cream


One bite of "melt in your mouth" goodness and this just might become one of your favorite gnocchi dishes. Smooth, rich, satisfying and elegant. The flavors are well balanced. Not overworking the dough is the key to a light and tender gnocchi.

Fresh Basil Cream Sauce

Fresh Basil
Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Ingredients for Butternut Squash Gnocchi:
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut in 4-6 pieces (remove seeds and pulp)
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut in half
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 egg yolks
1 cup flour (approximately)
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
Salt and pepper
Corn meal or semolina for dusting

Ingredients for Fresh Basil Cream Sauce:
2 cups half and half
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
A pinch of saffron threads (optional)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Parmiaganno Reggiano, grated

1. In a medium sized saucepan cover the potatoes and butternut squash with water and bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until tender. Check by piercing with a fork. Drain well and either grate or rice the vegetables, toss gently with olive oil, nutmeg (if desired), salt and pepper (to taste). Let cool completely.
2. Combine the vegetable mixture with the egg yolks. Using a light hand, add flour gradually in 1/4 cup increments until a smooth ball of dough is formed. More or less flour might be needed as butternut squash and potato sizes vary.
3. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and gently roll into 1" thick ropes dust with cornmeal or semolina. Cut on a diagonal approximately 1/2" in size. Set aside.
3. In the meantime, in a large pot start to boil water for the gnocchi. 

4.  Prepare the sauce:  Heat the half and half in a large saute pan until reduced by half, now add the basil chiffonade, lemon zest, saffron and butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm on a very low heat.
5. Simmer the gnocchi (best in two batches- using 1/2 at a time) in gently boiling stock or water, swirl the surface of the water to help separate the gnocchi, (do not touch the gnocchi while they are boiling- they are delicate), when they float to the top remove with a slotted ladle and drain.
6. Add all of the butternut squash gnocchi to sauté pan with Basil Cream Sauce, tossing gently to coat, heat for approximately 3-4 minutes.
Transfer to a serving platter and top with fresh basil and grated cheese.
Note: I  tried 1/2 butternut squash and 1/2 sweet potato- delicious too!!


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